Liverpool’s Attacking Resurgence
Liverpool’s attacking unit is now full of elite talent and match-winning brilliance, in what is an eclectic mix of footballers.
Mohamed Salah, Luis Diaz, and Diogo Jota all bring different attributes to the team, whether it be the former’s end product, the middle’s directness, or the latter’s intelligence.
When it comes to the two Anfield attacking heroes who are the most contrasting, however, Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez stand out.
Only last week, the pair helped Liverpool turn things around in their EFL Cup semi-final first leg win at home to Fulham, as the Reds’ firepower from the substitutes’ bench once again proved vital.
Gakpo’s Subtle Brilliance
Gakpo steered home a lovely, more difficult than it looked finish to put his side 2-1 up on the night, while Nunez assisted both goals, meaning he leads the way in that area with 10 for Liverpool this season.
The pair are largely popular figures at Liverpool, but that’s also not to say that they don’t have their detractors. They silenced them against the Cottagers, though, as their very different styles of play combined beautifully.
In many ways, they are the Reds’ odd couple in the final third, with Gakpo a subtle footballer who is aesthetically-pleasing, gliding around the pitch in a manner not always dissimilar to Roberto Firmino, especially in terms of his ability to drop deep.
He is bigger and faster than Liverpool’s legendary Brazilian, but he does have that ability to make the difficult things look easy.
That being said, Gakpo isn’t perfect, and can be guilty of going missing in games and not using his towering frame to the best of his abilities, and he needs to find another level to be considered a world-class attacking player.
Nunez’s Raw Talent
As for Nunez, he couldn’t be further from his teammate’s end of the footballing spectrum, constantly finding himself in the action, for right or wrong.
You always notice the Uruguayan – I once heard someone describe him as “an out-of-control horse sprinting around a town centre”, which seems accurate! – with his pace and power making him a huge handful, but his finishing continues to let him down.
While the likes of Gakpo and Jota can be ice-cold in the key moments, Nunez snatches at chances and invariably attempts to leather the ball into the net, with more finesse needed in his game.
The two Liverpool stars are comfortably bigger assets than they are hindrances, however, and if Jurgen Klopp’s men are to go all the way in the Premier League title race this season, their input needs to be great in the coming months.
Future Prospects for the Reds
Salah cannot keep being the man to bail the Reds out so consistently in the final third, but Gakpo and Nunez are still doing their bit, registering 15 goal contributions between them in the league this season.
Earth-shattering? No. But you feel there is still so much more to come from them.
It is easy to forget that both players are still only 24 – they are younger than Trent Alexander-Arnold, which seems strange – and their best years are still a number of years away.
Salah had just turned 25, Firmino approached his 24th birthday and Sadio Mane was 24 when Liverpool’s iconic attacking trio’s arrival at Anfield, highlighting how much time there still is for Gakpo and Nunez to make their mark.
Both excelled against Fulham in their last match, and it bodes well moving forward.